MMA statement on the municipal health insurance reform act

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For immediate release
For more information, contact Geoff Beckwith at (617) 426-7272

Over the past week, state leaders and key stakeholders have continued to have an open, productive and constructive dialogue on legislation to address the skyrocketing costs of municipal employee health insurance.

The purpose of these discussions has been to clarify the provisions of the act to ensure that the reform is strong for cities and towns and taxpayers, while ensuring a meaningful voice for municipal employees, retirees and municipal unions.

On behalf of local officials in every corner of the state, the MMA applauds all parties, including Gov. Deval Patrick, House Speaker Robert DeLeo, and Senate President Therese Murray, their leadership teams, and all stakeholders for their common commitment to ensure that this process leads to a final positive result on July 11.

We are convinced that the municipal health insurance reform provisions in the fiscal 2012 state budget, with the four consensus refinements that will be offered by the governor, will deliver an effective and meaningful reform bill that saves taxpayers money, preserves essential local services, protects municipal union jobs, guarantees equity with state employee health benefits, and continues to provide municipal unions with more bargaining power than state unions. This is a balanced and fair reform that would allow cities and towns to save $100 million in avoided health insurance costs.

Communities are in fiscal distress, and with these final four amendments, the Legislature and the governor are poised to provide a municipal health insurance reform act that offers the relief that taxpayers need. Soaring health insurance costs are forcing cuts in essential municipal and school services and forcing the elimination of teachers, firefighters, police officers and other key employees from local budgets. Cities and towns will use this reform to provide relief for local taxpayers, protect essential services, and preserve thousands of municipal jobs.

We respectfully and urgently ask the Legislature to support and adopt the four amendments on July 11 so that this reform can be immediately signed by the governor and be in place as a companion to the fiscal 2012 state budget without delay.

We again recognize the leadership of Speaker DeLeo, President Murray, House Ways and Means Chair Brian Dempsey and Vice Chair Stephen Kulik, Senate Ways and Means Chair Stephen Brewer and Vice Chair Steven Baddour, Public Service Committee chairs Rep. John Scibak and Sen. Katherine Clark, budget conferees Rep. Vinny deMacedo and Sen. Michael Knapik, and all of the members of the House of Representatives and Senate who have advocated for reform this session. And, of course, we highly commend the leadership of Gov. Patrick, Administration and Finance Secretary Jay Gonzalez, and the members of the governor’s administration. We look forward to working with all legislators, the governor and stakeholders to ensure that this reform plan delivers the relief and savings that every community needs.